The FIFA World Cup Kickaround, Halftime, and Postgame Thread #1 For 6/30/14: After France-Nigeria
FT: France 2-0 Nigeria (Pogba 79; Yobo 90 OG)
Even a great goalkeeper in fine form is always susceptible to a mistake. And that is what happened to Vincent Enyeama today.
Just his moment allowed Paul Pogba the difference making goal to have France survive a Nigerian side who had better tactics than them.
Deschamps decision to start Benzema with Giroud was a disaster, as Efe Ambrose was having his way all day due to Patrice Evra having no one helping him.
The change to Grizemann should have occurred sooner, but came on to push Les Blues back into the quaterfinals. But Pogba did well to maintain his composure and score what turned out to be the winner, with Joseph Yobo on his 100th (and maybe final) cap a bystander for the header.
France will need a lot better if they are to be a Germany team with Joachim Low's side get through a revenge laden Algerian side. But he likely will return to supporting Benzema with two wingers instead of placing him in a world of confusion with Giroud on the field.
HT: Nigeria 0, France 0
Photo from FIFA.com
What's has been the most enjoyable aspect of that first half is seeing how Nigeria's front four of Emenike, Odemwingie, Moses, and Musa have done the necessary track back work to help their makeshift fullbacks. Their two way effort has been a major boon for Juwon Oshaniwa, while Efe Ambrose has been truly terrific in the fist half.
With Onazi's early ailment in the half though, it has allowed Paul Pogba to control the center of the field when he gets forward.
Benzema and Giroud are in each other's way too much, where Deschamps was too tempted by seeing them get goals against the Swiss and thinking it could work again. Benzema still is effective when he can be a target man playmaker, and he is allowed that since Giroud is not a second outside man like Valbuena is.
Deschamps has to be tempted to drop Giroud for Griezmann if things don't change for his #10.
For Keshi, he will have to determine if Onazi can really give him anymore or not, because the more he struggles with his ailment, the more chances there will be for Pogba to showcase his massive ability.
How Yobo and Oshaniwa will play today will determine the contest. They can't be shocked in by Benzema getting the ball in the midfield, as he will not do it that much with Valbuena in the hole for Deschamps. They have got to keep their balance and win that matchup against Giroud and Benzema.
Onazi will try and learn from the lessons Messi game him the last game and take a cost eye on Valbuena to allow Moses to deal with Pogba and Matuidi, with assistance from Moses.
(Will be back for the postgame and maybe the halftime, in a bit)....